The Bradley Center has been a fixture of downtown Milwaukee since its opening in 1988. It isn’t a spectacular or glamorous building by any means. The primarily gray color was simplistic but it got the job done, similar to the culture that was Milwaukee.
The Bucks needed a new place to play as the MECCA was aging, and the hope was with the new arena, the city of Milwaukee could attract an expansion NHL franchise. That never happened, but the Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette Men’s Basketball team, the Milwaukee Admirals, numerous semi-pro teams, the WWE, and several musicians have put the BC to good use over the last 30 years.
However, the Bradley Center is now considered one of the worst accommodating arenas in the NBA. After years of debating, referendums, and legislation, Milwaukee was awarded a new arena, the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center. The 2017-18 basketball season will be the last time the Bucks and Marquette men’s basketball team will play at the BC.
It’s time to look back at the best teams to ever compete within the walls of the Bradley Center.
10. 12-13 Milwaukee Bucks
For the first time since the 09-10 season, the Milwaukee Bucks were back in the playoffs. Led by a promising backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks were a young team that just wasn’t able to make the most of the promising talent they had. The young Bucks were only able to capture the eighth seed in the eastern conference, but it was with a mediocre 38-44 record. It was rare to see a team under .500 make it into the playoffs. The Bucks entered the playoffs with a .463 win percentage, that was absolutely unheard of. In the first round, they had to face Miami’s “Big 3,” led by NBA superstars, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
This matchup would lead to the infamous words by Brandon Jennings, “We gonna win in six.” Thus, “Bucks in 6” was born.
The Bucks would be swept by the Heat in four games, to no one’s surprise, but that one interview from BJ3 showed just how confident these Bucks were. They weren’t going to give up when facing one of the biggest challenges, that being a loaded Miami Heat squad.
9. 11-12 Marquette Golden Eagles
This Marquette men’s basketball team would start off on fire. They would win their first 12 of 14 games, including 10 in a row. During that run, they were able to sneak into the AP top 10 before Big East conference play began. Led by future NBA talent, Jae Crowder, and Vander Blue, the Golden Eagles finished in second place in conference play. Along the way, they beat some great teams at the Bradley Center, including 23rd ranked Louisville and 11th ranked Georgetown.
All that earned a three seed in the NCAA tournament. Marquette would dominate their first weekend matchups. In the Sweet 16, they faced the seventh-seeded, Florida Gators. Anything can happen in March, the Gators would go on to upset the Golden Eagles.
Marquette dominated the regular season, winning the Paradise Jam tournament, but they fell flat on the big stage. They would finish the season ranked 11th in the AP and 10th in the Coaches polls.
8. 14-15 Milwaukee Bucks
The 13-14 Milwaukee Bucks was, statistically, the worst Bucks team in franchise history. Notching a 15-67 record, the Bucks were awarded the 2nd pick in the 2014 draft. With that pick, the Bucks selected a key member for the future of the franchise, Jabari Parker.
The Bucks, now being coached by Jason Kidd, didn’t necessarily have high hopes for the 14-15 season, but they were looking to improve. A young Giannis Antetokounmpo was still very raw and not able to knock down a consistent jump shot. Khris Middleton had yet to develop into the player he is now, and no one knew what the hell was up with the point guard position.
Despite no one giving the Bucks a chance to make the playoffs, they surprised and finished the 14-15 season with a 41-41 record. That was without Jabari Parker who tore his ACL in mid-December.
A shocking trade at the deadline sent Michael Carter Williams, Miles Plumlee, and Tyler Ennis to Milwaukee. At the time of the trade, the Bucks were 30-21, they would end the year at .500.
The Bucks were eventually eliminated in six games by their I-94 rival, the Chicago Bulls, but not without some drama of course. Facing elimination in game four, Jerryd Bayless was able to score the game-winning layup and keep the series going.
7. 09-10 Milwaukee Bucks
Led by John Salmons, an aging Michael Redd, and rookie Brandon Jennings, the Bucks were able to win a surprising 46 games, the most in a season since 2001. On top of that, the Bucks made the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. While the Bucks would lose in the first round to a strong Atlanta Hawks team, fans were excited to see the Bucks playing postseason basketball.
The season came to an abrupt halt, however, when a rising star, Andrew Bogut, took a hard fall after a transition slam dunk. To this day it is one of the most gruesome injuries to watch. You could make a strong argument that the loss of Bogut was the reason the Bucks did not advance in the playoffs. Milwaukee took Atlanta to seven games, if Bogut was there, it’s likely the Bucks would have won the series. However, hindsight is always 20/20.
A mid-season trade for John Salmons, helped Milwaukee make that playoff push. Even though he only played 30 games for the 09-10 season, he would lead the Bucks in MPG, PPG, and 3FG%. He helped light a much-needed spark, and without him, a playoff appearance may not have happened.
6. 95-96 Marquette Golden Eagles
This Marquette team was led by future NBA talent Chris Crawford and Amal McCaskill. While they were never big names in the association, they were both vital parts of this Golden Eagles team in 95-96
The season got off on a bad note. After losses to a mediocre Wisconsin team and an awful La Salle squad (a team that would finish the year 6-22,) Marquette needed a spark. They were able to get huge confidence wins in the Bradley Center versus 9th ranked Memphis and on the last day of the regular season versus 7th ranked Cincinnati.
These were two huge wins that were enough for the Golden Eagles to get into the NCAA tournament. They built on their resume by beating Cincinnati and Louisville on their home courts. Both teams were ranked in the top 25 at the time as well.
The huge run at the end of the regular season continued into the conference tournament where they would once again upset Memphis in what was basically a home game for Memphis even though it was considered a “neutral site.” A loss in the CUSA championship game derailed any momentum Marquette had. A second-round exit in the NCAA tournament was the end of an otherwise terrific season for the Golden Eagles.